Joel 2:12-14 Turn to me now, while there is time! Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping and mourning. Don't tear your clothes in your grief, instead tear your hearts. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and mericful. He is not easily angered. He is filled with kindness and is eager not to punish you. Who knows! Perhaps even yet he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this terrible curse. Perhaps he will give you so much that you will be able to offer grain and wine to the Lord your God as before.
God wanted the people of Judah to come to him with torn and broken hearts, admitting their guilt and helplessness, instead of responding to his judgement in the usual way of tearing their garments. The people needed to commit themselves to God, examine themselves, and let God change them. Since God is gracious and merciful it makes sense to commit our life to him rather than to the objects of this world. He wants to change our pain into joy and send us a blessing.
So, how do go about tearing our hearts before God? Admitting to him our wrong doing and begging him to get us through the not so pleasant times in life? Here are a few things I've come across in reading that make sense to me.
1. Go to God with your torn and broken heart. Let God know that you feel broken. He already knows you are broken, he already knows I am broken in ways, but we must go to him and let him know we need him to help us heal our broken hearts.
2. Admit our guilt. Something has caused us to have a torn and broken heart. What is it for you? What is it for me? We must admit it or else we pretend it doesn't exist.
3. Admit our helplessness. Without God, we are nothing. Without God, our hearts will always be torn and hurt. He is the ultimate mender. But if we think we can heal our broken hearts ourselves, let me tell you my friend, there's nothing further from the truth. If we are broken and helpless, we have to have God. along with any other professionals, friends and family to get through the helplessness.
4. Commit ourselves to God. Not just in a time of need, in a time of broken ness and torn hearts, but fully committing to God. All to often we go to God when life gets rough and then we forget about him when the going gets good. That's not the kind of relationship God wants from us.
5. Examine ourselves. Why are we torn and broken?
6. Let God change us. Change will not come, our broken ness will not heal if we do not want it. But we can't do it on our own. We have to have God in order to have a true change in our self from the broken ness.
7. He will change pain into joy. Pain hurts and it may last for the night time, but joy always comes in the morning. Thanks be to God!
8. Send us a blessing. If we go to God with our torn hearts, admit our faults, our helplessness, want the change, allow God to change us, the pain will change to joy and ultimately, God will bless us. But he cannot bless us if allow ourselves to remain broken. The cycle just keeps going and going.
So, if God is loving and merciful, why does he allow suffering? This is my conclusion at the moment. Through suffering, God lets us know that we need to make changes in our lives. If we never had any suffering from our bad decisions, or sin, then we'd never stop to realize we need to change our ways. God allows us to suffer the consequences of our sin to wake us up from the same ole day in and day out of our sinful ways. He gives us comfort and he doesn't allow it to destroy us. (If the torn hearts and broken ness destroy us, it's because we've let it and not turned to God. ) But rather, God allows this suffering to bring about the process of our restoration.
The mighty thing about God is that he has gone before us. He has paid the price of our sins with the blood he shed. And because of this, he forgives us for being broken. God wants our hearts, not just pieces of them when the going is good, but our whole hearts all the time. And the best news of all is that God forgives. God is with us in our time of need. We might feel abandoned, but he hasn't gone anyway. He pours out his help and power to us through the Holy Spirit. But we must have those hearts torn wide open in order to receive, to heal the hurt and pain.
You see, we can try and save ourselves from our sin. But we simply cannot. Only God can rescue us from ourselves. Do you want to be rescued? I know I do!